2017-03-14 / Front Page

Youth farm and rural safety is no accident

By Mark Evans
4-H Youth Development Educator

Warm weather is arriving. Youth will be outside more where physical injury would be more likely to occur where safety precautions and rules have not been established. Whether flowing grain, riding on a tractor draw bar or otherwise insecurely, using equipment improperly or extracting stuck equipment inappropriately, these are a few ways for youth to become in deep trouble as they play, live and work around the farm experiencing situations that urban counterparts do not experience. While one in five of serious grain bin incidents involve individuals age 21 and under and many think of grain entrapment as the leading cause of death, tractor rollovers are actually the most common cause of death accounting for nearly one half of deaths in the past 20 years.

Most people can think of a time when their life passed before their eyes. Grace has been extended to myself on two occasions that both involved agricultural situations and have permanently scarred my mind with “what if” scenarios. Once was trying to place a round bale into a feeder with a tractor that was much too small and without adequate rear weight. The ground was bumpy and frozen. While the forked bucket was up high, the round bale in tow started to roll and nearly rolled down the arms of the tractor and would have crushed me in my seat. Additionally, as a child when riding on a tractor fender pulling a load of hay, my curiosity overcame me to stick my foot on the moving tractor tire to see what would happen. Yes my foot became caught but thankfully I was able to jerk my foot back.

In both of the previous situations, major errors were made. Equipment without adequate rear weight that was also too small is like using a dull knife to cut something. A dull knife is much more likely to hurt someone than a sharp knife used properly. Moral of the story is use the right tools and equipment for the application. In the latter situation as a child, my parents should not have allowed me to ever ride on a tractor fender or stand on a draw bar of a tractor pulling something! If an axle or hitch broke certain disaster would occur. No matter how tight one thinks they are holding on, it is still not safe…period! Thanks to safety programs, today many would not think of letting a child ride on a drawbar when towing an implement or riding on a fender of an open tractor, both practices that were commonplace more than 20 years ago in rural communities.

What causes us to do something we know we should not do? It is like the wet paint that says do not touch and what do we do? Most often we think it won’t happen to me this time or everybody else does it and nothing happened to them. More so, when in a hurry or when frustration sets in, common sense and safety go out the window.

When extracting stuck equipment, one may become angry or embarrassed and use a chain or cable not rated for the application or give a big jerk that results in a chain flying through the back of the vehicle or striking someone otherwise. Perhaps in a hurry, the safety shield or cover is not fixed or reinstalled after maintenance leaving access to high voltage, moving parts, PTO, or other dangers. Becoming blind to power lines when moving augers, elevators or other tall equipment or simply playing outdoors can quickly get one into trouble. Stop to think, become aware of surroundings and don’t make bad decisions.

As another growing season is about kick off in the coming weeks, please take time to make sure particularly youth are knowledgeable of risks and use safety equipment. Have a tailgate meeting to discuss safety with family and staff, and think about the fact that your family members need you. You are too valuable to risk your life by taking short cuts that will eventually burn you with an injury or worse.

Visit our homepage at www.extension.purdue.edu/putnam or you can contact the local Purdue Extension Office by calling 765.653.8411 for more information regarding this week’s column topic or to RSVP for upcoming events. It is always best to make contact first to assure items are ready when you arrive and to RSVP for programs. While many publications are free, some do have a fee. Purdue University is an equal access/equal opportunity institution. All times listed are Eastern Time.

Upcoming Events:

March 15 – Junior Leaders, Fairgrounds, 7-8 pm

March 16 – Exploring 4-H, Fairgrounds, 6-7 pm

March 16 – Soil Health Workshop, Fairgrounds, 6:30-8:30, RSVP to Ext. Office

March 18 – Garden Fair 2017, Fairgrounds, 8:30-3:00

March 21 – Women to Women: Educating Women about Farm Marketing, Fairgrounds, 9:30-2:30, Cost $30, Register at 574-372-2340

April 1 – Beef & Dairy Steer 4-H Online Enrollment Due

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